Player: Eric Tangradi
Type: A neighborhood in Philadelphia
Distance from Wilkes-Barre: 100 miles
Population: 38,000 (according to www.roxborough.us)
Last week we spoke to Dylan Reese about growing up in Pittsburgh, so it's only fair that we go across the state to visit the rival city of Philadelphia. That's where Eric Tangradi grew up – in the neighborhood of Roxborough, perched on a hill in the city limits. Tangradi ventured off the hill plenty throughout his childhood, exploring the vast city surrounding his neighborhood. As a result, he has gained a deep appreciation of American history, did his Rocky imitation on the steps by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and shares with us the best place to get a cheesesteak – the place where the locals eat.
Tangradi also told us about working his way through high school and, as a reminder to Reese, he hasn't forgotten about your bet.
What kind of a place is Roxborough? It's just up the hill from Manayunk. A blue collar area. We consider ourselves a hard-working town, and that's had a lot to do with the type of player I've become. Every morning everyone puts on their hard hat in one way or another and works their 40-plus hour week.
I had to work all through high school. My dad took care of my hockey gear, but everything – movies, money to hang out with friends, was on me. My first job I was a busboy at a Mexican restaurant called Adobe Café. I also worked at an ice cream place called Custard and Cakes Creamery that my friend's mom owned. Between going to high school, playing hockey and trying to work 20 to 30 hours a week, it was very hectic.
Settle a longstanding debate for us. Who has the best Philly cheesesteak, Geno's or Pat's? I get that question a lot. I'd say neither. Both of those are tourist attractions and in the eyes of people from Philly, we usually stay away from them. There's a place in Belmont Hill called Mama's – they put together probably one of the best cheesesteaks I've ever had. A pound and a half of meat, mozzarella cheese and fried onions. I can only have those once a summer or I'd triple in weight, but they're the best in my eyes. That's the one all the locals know about.
Ever run up the Rocky stairs? I did when I was younger. We went on a class trip to the art museum – that's where they moved the statue to from the Spectrum. Kind of a neat touch. I ran the stairs when I was 10. It's not as easy as you think.
Impressed by all the history – Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, that can be found in Philadelphia? I'm a huge U.S. history fan. Being from that area, there's tons of history – Valley Forge, the Betsy Ross home, the Liberty Bell. One thing I do regret that I never did the historical tour of Philadelphia. I do know about the history and I plan on sitting on the bus and doing the historic tour one day.
You must be happy to see all the Philadelphia jerseys around here. I'm shocked there aren't more Eagles jerseys. You have more Giants and Steelers fans than Eagels fans. I don't know how the Giants get involved.
Did you and Dylan Reese have a friendly wager when the Eagles played the Steelers a couple weeks ago? We did. He hasn't paid up yet. He might think I've forgotten about it, but whenever you have a wager on the Eagles and Steelers, you don't forget.
Will you ever move back to Philadelphia? I don't think so. I do love the area and I have friends and family, but it's such a busy town. I consider myself a peace and quiet kind of guy. I hope to retire somewhere in the countryside or the suburbs where I can look out my back window and see nothing but trees. Growing up in Philly dealing with traffic and hustle and bustle, it's something I've become accustomed to growing up but it's almost that I've had too much of it.